Organic Wine Find Organic Wine 2013-05-14T13:12:47Z WordPress Nikki Goddard <![CDATA[10 Dirty Foods to Buy Organic & the Wines to Drink With Them]]> 2013-05-14T13:12:47Z 2013-05-03T12:06:52Z If you’re interested in drinking organic wine, you probably also enjoy purchasing organic food.

There are many benefits to buying organic, some of which are quite obvious, while others are still the subject of much debate amongst scientific researchers.

One of the more controversial topics is nutrition–a statistically significant correlation between organic produce and added nutrition has yet to be proven. However, there are plenty of other reasons to purchase organic food over conventional, including the lack of pesticides used in growing the crops (which should especially be avoided by expectant mothers and the parents of young children); the restricted use of food additives such as artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners, as well as MSG and preservatives; and the reduced negative impact in the form of chemical exposure on the environment, farm workers, and neighbors.

Not All Things Are Equal

What some people don’t realize is that some foods are more important to buy organic than others. Different forms of produce vary greatly in terms of pesticide residue, and when purchasing foods with little pesticide contamination, such as onions, avocado, cabbage, asparagus, and eggplant, you can buy conventional and save your money for your wine budget! However, certain forms of produce that tend to show very high pesticide contamination levels should always be bought organic when possible.

Here are some of the worst offenders, along with recipes and suggested wine pairings–organic ones, of course!

1. Apples

Yes, the humble apple is one of the worst offenders. If you buy conventional apples, the plethora of pesticides may fail to keep the doctor away for long. Because of their predisposition to fungus and insect threats, apples may be treated with up to forty different pesticides. The residue even makes its way into apple products, such as apple sauce and apple juice, so it’s best to always buy organic when apples are involved.

Suggested pairing: Pink Lady Apple and Salmon Ceviche with a fresh, crisp Pinot Gris with enough acidity to cut through the fatty salmon, like the 2011 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris from Oregon. Many of the flavors in this wine, such as green apple, citrus, and a hint of spice, will create a harmonious marriage with the fresh, piquant ceviche.

2. Celery

From year to year, celery always tops the list. Up to 60 different pesticides have been found on this satisfyingly crunchy, low-calorie vegetable. But alas, there is hope in the organic aisle.

Suggested pairing: Cream of Celery Soup with Bacon served with a bone-dry Austrian Riesling, like any fresh, recent vintage from respected producer Summerer. The bright white fruit flavors will complement the cool, refreshing flavor of celery, and the wine will have enough backbone and racy, mineral acidity to stand up to the creamy soup without falling flat. It even has a touch of smoky pepper on the nose to echo the hint of bacon in the dish.

3. Strawberries

One of nature’s most delicious creations, the strawberry, is sadly quite prone to fungus–it seems not even the lowest organisms on the food chain can resist its sweet-tart, juicy siren song!

Suggested Pairing: For a refreshing twist on the classic strawberries-and-Champagne pairing, why not try Strawberry Brunch Tart with Thyme and Black Pepper with a tasty Cremant d’Alsace Rosé like the NV Domaine Allimant-Laugner, made entirely from Pinot Noir? Sparkling wine from Alsace has the benefit of being made in the style of Champagne, as many winemakers settled there after leaving Champagne in the early 1900s, while being much, much more affordable! The Allimant-Laugner rendition has bright yet creamy strawberry flavors, and its refreshing, easy-drinking attributes make it the perfect brunch beverage!

4. Peaches

The delicious, juicy peach suffers the malady of being a tree fruit, one of the categories of fruit most susceptible to being affected by fungi, therefore making it a prime candidate for pesticide spraying.

Suggested pairing: Peach, Jamon Iberico & Buffalo Mozzarella Salad with a round, fleshy Spanish Albariño like the 2011 Corsica, the only organic Albariño made in the Rias Biaxas region. Bright stone fruit flavors, good acidity, and briny minerality make it the perfect match for a summer salad of ripe organic peaches, salty Spanish ham, and creamy, fresh mozzarella.

5. Spinach

When the word ‘spinach’ comes to mind, we envision the gold standard of healthy vegetables. But this is not the case with conventional spinach, often tainted with nearly 50 types of pesticides. Knowing this, one must draw the conclusion that Popeye built up all of those muscles eating spinach from the organic aisle–a man ahead of his time!

Suggested pairing: Indian food is often relegated to the category of white-white cuisine, or even beer territory. But a simple Saag Paneer dish can pair beautifully with a Cabernet Franc rosé from the Loire Valley, like the 2011 Domaine Sauvete Pineau d’Aunis Rosé Meli-Melo. It’s light, fresh, and dry, plenty of herbal notes and a peppery finish that will make for an ideal pairing.

6. Sweet Bell Peppers

When it comes to savory yet sweet bell peppers, none of the colors of the rainbow are safe from pesticides. Buying these organic is always your best bet.

Suggested Pairing: Grilled  Salmon with Sweet Onions and Red Bell Peppers with a Pinot noir with smoky-sweet red fruit. Pinot Noir is a natural partner for salmon, and this recipe calls for an light-bodied, earthy style from a cool climate like Mendocino, California, The Finger Lakes in Upstate New York (try the 2011 Anthony Road Pinot Noir), Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, or Sancerre of France’s Loire Valley. Bonus points for finding a wine from Northern California from the 2008 vintage–a year that was riddled with forest fires, causing many of the wines made from grapes harvested that year to have a smoke-tainted flavor considered a flaw in large amounts but a pleasant addition when just slightly noticeable. And luckily, you don’t need to worry about buying organic for the onions in this recipe!

7. Potatoes

Suggested Pairing: Golden Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Butter served alongside a nice, juicy cut of steak, paired with an aged Bordeaux or a Northern Rhône Syrah like a Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas, or Côte-Rôtie. Any of these wines will have deep, rich, earthy flavors or dark berries, with notes of tobacco, leather, and possibly even truffle. You won’t be disappointed with a Cornas from almost any vintage from the iconic producer Auguste Clape. Look for 2011, 2010, or 2009 vintages in particular, or if your budget allows, 1989, 1990, or 1991! The older the wine, the more pronounced the secondary aromas (read: non-fruit) will be.

8. Blueberries

Just like its cousin the strawberry, the blueberry is also highly prone to pesticide contamination. In fact, most berries often are. However, blueberries are considered a “superfood,” bursting with helpful antioxidants and vitamins. If you can find organic blueberries, including them in your diet is a smart idea.

Suggested Pairing: While the classic pairing for duck is Pinot Noir, an uncommon dish like Roast Duck with Blueberry Sauce can add opportunities for exciting and unusual pairings. An ideal choice is an Austrian Blaufränkisch, typically medium-bodied, ripe and juicy with loads of berry fruit and a hint of spice. A good organic option is the 2011 Moric Blaufränkisch Burgenland, with just the right balance of power and finesse.

9. Lettuce

Much to the dismay of salad-lovers everywhere, lettuce is another leafy green that is frequently tainted by the presence of pesticides. Once again, stick with organic and you’ll be in good shape.

Suggested Pairing:  Stir-Fried Five-Spice Pork with Lettuce Cups practically begs to be paired with a light-bodied, spicy Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with plenty of acidity. Look no further than the spectacular 2011 vintage of Haden Fig “No. 52,” produced not only organically but also biodynamically and sustainably. This Pinot is so light in color that you might mistake it for a rosé, but don’t be surprised upon sipping to discover its remarkable complexity.

10. Kale

Who knew that one of the healthiest “superfoods” of them all could be subject to such high levels of pesticides? Although this hearty vegetable is generally safer than its more delicate cousin lettuce, your best bet is to eschew conventional versions just to be safe.

Suggested Pairing: Kale seems to lends itself best to simplicity. A Lemon-Garlic Kale Sauté is the perfect choice, and it’s hard to think of a better pairing than the ultimate food wine, Grüner Veltliner–Austria’s most important white wine. With racy acidity and vegetal and citrus flavors and aromas, Grüner is a match made in heaven for this healthy, easy-to-prepare dish. A young vintage of the proudly organic BioKult is the obvious choice, with its light, lemony freshness. It even comes with a no-fuss screw-cap to match the simplicity of its leafy-green partner in crime.

Shop Smart, Pair Perfectly

It’s important to be vigilant about what you put into your body–in terms of both health and flavor! You’ll only eat so many meals and drink so many glasses of wine in your lifetime, so it is important to make each one count. If you make sure to consume the right organic foods, you’ll only gain more from your gustatory experience by pairing them with the perfect organic wines.

Nikki Goddard <![CDATA[Weird Winemaking: Here’s Some of the Strangest Biodynamic Wine-Making Practices]]> 2013-04-23T15:34:22Z 2013-04-23T15:33:34Z Biodynamic wines, produced in accordance with the practices of biodynamic agriculture, are a popular if controversial subset of the organic wine genre. Grape-growers who practice biodynamics treat the soil, plants, and animals in a vineyard as one complete self-sustaining system.

To the layman, some biodynamic practices can be considered pretty strange. Despite the fact that its detractors liken the field of biodynamics to little more than silly, useless voodoo/homeopathy/magic tricks, plenty of studies have been done to show its efficacy. Many highly acclaimed biodynamic wineries throughout the world add empirical evidence in its favor.

cowhorn wine biodynamic


Whether you believe that biodynamic farming improves the contents of your wine glass or not, it is fascinating (though not necessarily appetizing) to take an in-depth look at a few of the different techniques utilized in the process:


Preparation 500

A cow horn filled with cow manure is buried 16-18 inches deep in the soil during the winter, when vines are dormant. The manure, which must come from a lactating cow, is said to bring calcium processes to the preparation.  Eventually, after the horn is dug up, its contents are mixed with water and sprayed on the soil four times a year, always in the afternoon and during the descending phase of the moon.

Function: Promotes root activity and stimulates microbiotic life in the soil.


Preparation 502

Yarrow, a sweet-smelling, herbal plant, is sheathed inside a stag’s bladder, which is hung in the warm summer sun. It is buried throughout the winter, and dug up the following spring. The bladder is then discarded, but its contents are used as compost.

Function: Helps control the breakdown of the manures and compost, helping to make trace elements more available to the plant. Important for reproduction and growth.


Preparation 505

The bark of an oak tree is grated into a powder in Autumn, and placed into the skull of a sheep or cow. Don’t worry, it is essential that the skull be very clean! The skull is stored in a barrel filled with running water and rotted vegetation for a period of six months, during which time the oak bark goes through the process of fermentation. By the time this phase is complete, the skull will quite likely no longer be very clean. Also, unsurprisingly, it may smell a bit! Alas, fourteen days of stirring the preparation will result in an inoffensive, sweet aroma.

Function: Works strongly with calcium, helps to combat plant diseases (especially fungus), and controls rampant growth.


If you’re feeling skeptical at this point, you’re not alone!

But before writing off biodynamics, you may want to experience its results for yourself.

French winemakers in particular have achieved great success using these unconventional methods. Notable producers include Nicolas Joly and Chateau de la Roche-aux-Moines in the Loire Valley, Maison Chapoutier in the Rhône Valley, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, and Domaine Leroy in Burgundy.

Richard Hand <![CDATA[Preparing The Ground For Portugal’s Award Winning Organic Wines]]> 2013-04-12T17:15:14Z 2013-04-08T13:35:19Z It seems slightly peculiar in a country such as Portugal with its markets brimming with organic produce and historically being a wine-producing country that there are not more organic wines among its domestic and export sales. However, chemical companies are now being spurned by a growing number of producers to the point that for the second year in a row there is an organic wine producers competition in Estoril, located in the central western portion of the country.


In the 2012 competition, there were 203 entries from producers in various countries and only 7 medals were awarded, with 6 of them going to Portuguese wineries as judged by international experts of organic wine. Here is a list of the winners, as well as some others to look out for while shopping.

1. Cepa Pura Aragonez Reserva (2011)

Receiving the highest number of points was Quinta do Montalto’s Cepa Pura Aragonez Reserva 2011 (a medium-full bodied varietal using Aragonez that is also known as Tinto Roriz in more northerly areas of the country).

cepa pura reserva 2011

2. Altano (2010)

Closely following the Cepa Pura Aragonez was Symington Winery’s Altano 2010 from the Douro region using varieties Tinta Barocca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca.

altano douro

3. HDL Aragonez (2011)

From Symington’s immense organic wine hectarage to a much more modest operation, a very impressive lion’s share of medals (four to be exact) went to the Herdade Dos Lagos quinta in southern Portugal’s Alentejo region. On the podium were three reds and a rosé; HDL Aragonez 2011, HDL 2011 and HDL Vale de Camelos 2011 using varietals or combinations of Syrah, Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. HDL Rosé 2011 is a manual vintage using Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez.

4. Casal dos Jordões Rosé (2005)

To the north in the Douro, nestled on the slopes leading down to the Rio Torto, is the sprawling Quinta da Esteveira that in 1994 transformed its operation to being organic and marketed under a variety of labels, including the Casal dos Jordões label. Their 2005 vintage of Casal dos Jordões Rosé was awarded gold in Le Mondial du Rosé. Also, the award-winning Quinta da Esteveira DOC Reserva made from Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz displays solid and full characteristics.

5. CM label

Still in the Douro overlooking the valley and bordering the Douro International Natural Park is Quinta das Marvalhas, part of the CARM group that is a collection of a single family’s (Madeira family) quintas in this region. Their reds are intense and complex, but of particular note is the CM label with an exquisite balance of acids and tannins that provide a long and persistent finish.


6. ALR Vinho Verde DOC

The northern part of Portugal is also where the country’s unique Vinho Verde originates, and in the Dão appellation is where one will find Casa de Mouraz, a member of the Renaissance des Appellations (Return to Terroir) group. Their ALR Vinho Verde DOC is an exquisite example of a handcrafted wine with this label being a still variety, but still exhibiting the characteristic mineral content associated with Vinho Verde. This soft wine incorporates grape varieties Loureiro, Tresadouro and Azal.

vinho verde ALR

Appreciating and understanding Portuguese wines does require knowledge of what the various regions offer as well as being aware that the name of a vinifera in Spain may have two separate names in Portugal, depending where it is grown. But doesn’t that just add to the fascination of this portion of the Iberian Peninsula?

Expect to see more organic wine awards going to this rising star country. The wait shouldn’t be long.

Georgia Jauslin <![CDATA[Wine and Popcorn: A Guide to the 10 Best Wine Movies Ever!]]> 2013-04-02T14:22:25Z 2013-04-04T14:09:26Z Wine has a noteworthy presence on the silver screen and has become the source of inspiration for many backdrops, story settings, plots and characters.

Presented below are ten amazing wine movies that just make you want to sit back and relax with some popcorn or cheese and of course, a good bottle of wine.

1. A Good Year (2006)

a good year

British investment broker and bond trader, Max Skinner (Crowe) discovers that his dear uncle has passed away and that he’s inherited a chateau and vineyard in Provence. He then finds himself in the French wine country with his first intention to sell the property. There, he discovers a new way of life begins to fall in love with the romantic and poetic routines of the vineyard and the laidback life in Southern France. (IMDB)

Max Skinner: I would like a lifetime spent with an irrational and suspicious goddess, some short-tempered jealousy on the side, and a bottle of wine that tastes like you, a glass that’s never empty.
Francis Duflot: [Chuckles] In California, they don’t make wine. They make Hawaiian Punch.

2. Sideways (2004)

sideways movie

Directed by Alexander Payne, this 2004 comedy-drama follows two middle-aged men, Miles Raymond, a wine aficionado, unsuccessful writer and unhappy middle school English teacher as he takes his former roommate and soon-to-be-married friend, Jack Cole on a road trip to Santa Barbara County Wine Country. The movie has won several awards for their screenplay and the actors have also been awarded with accolades for their stellar performances. (IMDB)

Jack: Man! That’s tasty!
Miles Raymond: That’s 100% pinot noir. Single vineyard. They don’t even make it any more.
Jack: Pinot noir?
Miles Raymond: Mmm-hmm.
Jack: Then how come it’s white?
Miles Raymond: [laughs] Oh, Jesus. Don’t ask questions like that up in wine country. They’ll think you’re some kind of dumbshit, OK?

3. French Kiss (1995)

french kiss

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, this American romantic comedy is about a woman named Kate as she flies to France to make things right with her estranged fiancé, who called her one night drunk, saying that he has fallen deeply in love with a beautiful French woman. In the flight, she gets conned by Luc who used her to smuggle in a stolen diamond. Not a conventional romance, the two eventually fall in love and she learns that Luc, among many other things is an avid wine lover and owner of a vineyard. (IMDB)

Luc: First, you must take some wine. Can you describe it, the taste?
Kate: It’s a nice red wine.
Luc: I think you can do better.
Kate: A bold wine with a hint of sophistication and lacking in pretension.
Kate: Actually, I was just talking about myself.

4. Bottle Shock (2009)

bottle shock

This 2008 comedy-drama film directed by Randall Miller revolves around the 1976 wine competition coined as “the Judgment of Paris” when a California wine defeated a French wine in a blind taste test. It is not completely accurate to actual events but is definitely enjoyable. (IMDB)

Steven Spurrier: “Wine is sunlight, held together by water” – the poetic wisdom of the Italian physicist, philosopher, and stargazer, Galileo Galilei. It all begins with the soil, the vine, the grape. The smell of the vineyard – like inhaling birth. It awakens some ancestral, some primordial… anyway, some deeply imprinted, and probably subconscious place in my soul.

5. The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

Santa Vittoria

Although an oldie, no list would be complete without this 1969 film based by the best-selling novel of the same title by Robert Crichton. Set in the summer of 1942 during World War II, Italo Bombolini, mayor of the wine-making town of Santa Vittoria commissions the hiding of a million wine bottles in a cave before the Germans arrive to steal them. (IMDB)

Italo Bombolini: [the town council wants to resist German occupation] Every Santa Vittorian has known for the last thousand years: brave men and good wine – they don’t last long.

6. This Earth is Mine (1959)

earth is mine

This 1959 American film directed by Henry King follows the lives of the Rambeaus, a California winemaking family dynasty in their attempts to survive Prohibition in the United States. Elizabeth, an English cousin of the Rambeau family goes to California for a casual visit but later finds out that she is forced to be wed to a cousin from another family branch in order to consolidate the wine family business. She then finds herself in a very conflicting position of keeping the family heritage of the winery pure and safe or doing what she ultimately wants. (IMDB)

7. Mondovino (2004)


With the title literally meaning “world of wine”, this documentary tackles the globalization and impact of the various winemaking regions around the world. It aims to answer some very fundamental questions such as whether or not a small, passionate winemaker really has the chance to truly survive in the industry. Directed by American filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, he addresses these questions and issues with an intimate look into the world of wine. (IMDB)

Robert Parker: “I believe that the responsibility of the winemaker is to take that fruit and get it into the bottle as the most natural and purest expression of that vineyard, of the grape varietal or blend, and of the vintage.”

8. Corked (2009)


Corked is a “mockumentary” and a hilarious tale about four different wineries in California and how their fate intertwines as a famous celebrity wine critic is visiting the area. The movie focuses on a billionaire, a rich kid, a clueless winery manager and a Californian winery owner as they all strive to get the wine critic’s undying attention. (IMDB)

9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

silence of lambs

You may be trying to recall the last time you have watched this movie and wonder where the wine drinking was in that movie. This film, directed by Jonathan Demme makes the list due to the iconic line that has been uttered by the brilliant psychiatrist, cannibal and serial killer, Hannibal Lecter. Although not a probable food pairing, the line did make it to one of the most recognizable quotes in movie history, which involved some terrifying wine pairing suggestion. (IMDB)

Hannibal Lecter: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

10. A Walk in the Clouds

walk in the clouds

Directed by Alfonso Arau, this American-Mexican movie revolves around the story of how Paul, a man returning from war, meets a young woman on a bus who was pregnant but not married. She was afraid that her father might kill her. Paul offered her to pose as her husband to help her face her father. The backdrop to this romantic movie is a beautiful vineyard and wine drinking is an established activity throughout. It also has a grape stomping scene. And who doesn’t love a grape stomping scene? (IMDB)

Don Pedro Aragon: Newlyweds. What else do they do but make love and war?
Don Pedro Aragon: Talking between men and women never solves anything. Where we think, they feel. They are creatures of the heart.

Nikki Goddard <![CDATA[What’s the Deal With Sulfites? Myths and Truths Uncorked]]> 2013-04-04T07:01:49Z 2013-04-02T12:05:05Z If you spend a day wine tasting or an evening lounging at wine bar, you may overhear someone exclaim that they cannot drink red wine because the sulfites will induce a headache. You might even be that someone. However, science-minded imbibers know that this is not actually the case, for several reasons. The dreaded SO2 molecules are not, in fact, the hangover-inducing culprits many believe them to be. And even if they were, red wines would not be the ones which deserve to shoulder the blame!

sulfite in wine headaches

Image Credit:

It is true, some people do have a genuine sulfite sensitivity, but the resulting symptoms generally resemble an asthma attack rather than cranial discomfort. And the number of people who do experience this negative reaction is small–about 4% of the population in the United States. As one might expect, those who suffer from asthma are particularly at risk. Furthermore, white wines generally contain much higher sulfite levels than those of their red counterparts! So what is it that is causing those headaches, and what concerns should wine drinkers have about sulfites, if any?

White wines generally contain much higher sulfite levels than those of their red counterparts.

Sulfur dioxide is a chemical compound that acts as a preservative in wine. It stabilizes the wine, helping to keep the contents of the bottle fresh and lively, prevents oxidation and growth of bacteria (both of which are causes of wine spoilage), and in wines with residual sugar, a dose of it will inhibit the wine from re-fermenting in the bottle, causing what should be a still wine to become carbonated. Sulfites are actually a triple-threat! Unless you consume all of your wine within six months of bottling, a small amount of SO2 can be a lifesaver for that special bottle you’ve been holding onto for years for just the right occasion. There is of course, massive variation in the amount of sulfites present in different wines. Conventional wines often contain about 30-150 parts per millon (ppm), although the legal limit is much higher in some countries.

Do Organic Wines Also Have Sulfites?

Organic wines tend to contain minimal or no added sulfites. Sulfites are, however, a natural by-product of fermentation, so there really is no such thing as a completely sulfite-free wine. Winemakers are only required to include the words “contains sulfites” on their labels if the wine contains more than 10 ppm of SO2.

Am I Sulfite Sensitive?

If you’re not sure if you have a sulfite sensitivity, a great way to test it is by evaluating whether or not you have the same reaction to dried fruit. Dried apricots, unless you purchase their less-delicious sulfite-free cousins, actually contain as many or more sulfites than your average glass of wine! And it’s not just dried fruit. Just about anything you eat besides fresh produce could potentially contain sulfites!

Dried apricots actually contain as many or more sulfites than your average glass of wine!

So, if you’ve passed the apricot test but your headache remains, what could possibly be causing your malady? There are a few possibilities…

What Really Causes My Wine Headaches?

1. Tannin

This could explain the different reactions to red wine versus white wine. While most white wine contains little or no tannin, unless it is aged in oak barrels, reds wines often are chock-full of it. Tannin, which resides in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes as well as the wood used to make oak barrels, is what gives red wine its color, structure, ageability, and that mouth-drying astringency that can sometimes make you feel as though you have just licked a wool sweater. Consumption of tannins can reduce serotonin levels in the brain, which can lead to migraines in those who are prone to them. A good way to test if you have a tannin sensitivity is to sip on some over-steeped black tea or eat a handful of walnuts. Both are naturally high in tannin, so if your consumption of them gives you a headache, tannin sensitivity is most likely the cause of your red-wine headaches.

2. Histamines

The same pesky nitrogen compounds that cause your spring hay fever are another byproduct of fermentation. And to add insult to injury, they also occur naturally in the skins of grapes. So for wines that receive extended skin-contact during vinification (so-called “orange” wines and rosés to a lesser degree, and reds to a much higher degree–especially deeper, darker reds), the level of histamines present in the final product will be accordingly high. To find out if histamines are causing your problem, pop an allergy pill about an hour before imbibing some red wine. If your usual symptoms don’t make an appearance, you have your answer.

3. Prostaglandins

If you didn’t pay close attention in biology class, you might not have heard of this lipid compounds that dwell within each of our bodies. These have many important functions, but can be all sorts of bad news when mixed with wine. Wine contains enzymes that suppress prostaglandin function, affecting the relaxation and contraction of smooth muscle cells in a way that leads to headaches. The bad news is that recent studies have shown that the presence of yeasts and alcohol may make matters worse. The good news is that there is a very easy fix for this one: an Advil, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or Asprin taken about 30 minutes before drinking should prevent any potential issues. Just make sure you do this before you start drinking, not at the end of the night when you realize you’re going to be hung over at work in the morning. Taking certain medications after drinking can be hazardous to your health.

4. Drinking too much

This is just common sense! If you drink too much of any alcohol, you’re probably going to get a headache. As the late, great comedian Mitch Hedberg once said: “I like to drink red wine. This girl says ‘Doesn’t red wine give you a headache?’ ‘Yeah, eventually! But the first and the middle part are amazing.’ I’m not gonna stop doing something ’cause of what’s gonna happen at the end. ‘Mitch, you want an apple?’ ‘No, eventually it’ll be a core.'”

Some Final Tips

There are many links between wine and headaches, but for most people, sulfites are not one of them. If you are one of the unlucky few who have a genuine sulfite sensitivity, you’d be safest sticking to organic wines, which, despite containing some sulfites, generally contain very small amounts. Look for those that do not say “contains sulfites” on the label, as the sulfite content will be less than 10 ppm. For the rest of you, stock up on Claritin, Tylenol and unoaked white wine–and try to remember to pace yourself!

Richard Hand <![CDATA[State of the Union: Portugal’s Organic Wineries & Wines]]> 2013-04-02T12:42:25Z 2013-03-26T22:00:13Z In February 2012, the European Union (EU) took an important step in standardizing organic wine production among its member countries.

Portugal is not a stranger to organic wines with a sizable portion of its annual output having been “organic” for years, with each winery or quinta having had regional rules.

Portugal's wine regions

Now under new guidelines, it is possible to widely promote products of organic nature with full backing of a major economic zone. The new logo on certified products is a combination of the EU flag and a leaf.

 eu organic_symbol

Even though other regions and countries – such as the USA, Chile, Australia and South Africa – have had strict organic wine regulations in place for some time, for Europe this area in organic farming was the last one to receive official certification.

What Organic Certification Brings

What this means is that grapes are grown using only natural fertilizers, clover fields flourish that bind plant useable nitrogen to soil particles, herbal tea sprays used to combat insects and fungi, and natural insect predators are encouraged, such as ladybugs.

In addition to growing methods, organic requirements are carried into the production process with sulphite use drastically reduced to a maximum of 100 mg per litre in red wine (non-organic wines can have 150 mg/l), and 150 mg/l for white and rosé (compared to 200 mg/l for non-organic types). The maximum can only be used when residual sugar content is in excess of 2 grams per litre. Regardless of whether a Portuguese organic wine is from the Minho or Algarve region, or anywhere in between, it is made with the same exacting standards as say an organic Sancerre from France or a Liebfraumilch from Germany.

Portugal’s Wineries (Quintas)

Portugal has one of the largest total hectares of land for organic agricultural use in Europe, surpassed only by the other major wine-producing countries of Italy and Greece. As mentioned previously, the EU organic wine certification is recent whereas Portugal has been producing its brand for decades, if not centuries. Therefore, pre-2012 vintages, or quintas that have not yet been visited by a certification body to assess the new standards, are more likely to have the older label:

Portugal organic wine logo

Depending on the country where Portuguese and other European organic wines are purchased, labels may have other substituted organic logos indicating observance of that country’s regulations. In the US for example, the National Organic Program (NOP) has to endorse whether products sold in that country meet national criteria. This endorsement is not provided directly through the NOP, but instead through subsidiary organizations in the country of origin.

The process for American certification is very cumbersome and time-consuming, but mandatory if a product is to be sold as “organic” in the American marketplace.


Such a convoluted process deprives American consumers of many fine organic wines, particularly from Portugal’s wineries, as smaller quintas versus monolithic wineries found in other countries often do not have the resources, or even money, to satisfy such a bureaucracy.

Ironically, it’s the smaller wine producers that have been practicing organic techniques the longest.

Nikki Goddard <![CDATA[The Top Five Reasons to Buy Organic Wines]]> 2013-03-24T22:35:59Z 2013-03-21T11:14:33Z
sustainable wine growing

Credit: Cono Sur Winery

These days, organic products seem to rule the world. Organic produce is prized at the grocery store, we seek out meat that has been farmed organically, and even our clothing is more and more frequently being made from fabrics like organic cotton and silk.

Naturally, the “trend” has spilled over into the wine industry as well, but it’s not as recent of a fad that one might think.

Organic wines have been on the market since the 1980s, but the quality was slightly lacking in its first iterations. Winemakers have since adjusted their production processes accordingly, resulting in organic wine being named one of the ‘hottest drink trends for 2009’ in a research survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association in the United States.

But apart from the “hip” factor, why should you purchase organic wine rather than the regular stuff?

Here are five of the best reasons:


1. They often taste better

For many wine drinkers, taste is by far the most important factor. After all, why do we drink wine? Usually it is because we need a tasty beverage to pair with food or enjoy with friends. Wine is a great choice because of its many nuances and endless possibilities for conversation and education.

Organic wines are produced with almost obsessive attention to detail. The sorting table is scrutinized for unhealthy grapes and fermentation takes place with natural rather than artificial yeast, but even before making it out of the vineyard the grapes have begun their journey towards excellence. The vines must struggle to find water underground, and in doing so they develop complex and deep root systems, leading to greater complexity and concentration in the character of the final product.

Sure, not all organic wine is exceptional, but the fact that Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the Burgundy producer often considered to be the best (and certainly the most expensive) in the world is produced organically definitely seems to provide some supporting evidence in favor of the practice.


2. They contain fewer (or no) chemicals:

Certified organic wineries are forbidden from using pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers to grow their grapes. Instead, they resort to natural solutions such as compost, compost teas, and green manure for fertilizer; mechanical weeding and careful mowing in place of herbicides, and careful hand-picking or grazing chickens to eliminate vineyard pests. GMO organisms are strictly forbidden as well, so unlike conventional wines where the practice is common, organic wines are guaranteed not to contain GMO yeast.

Sulfites are used with discretion in small quantities, or not at all. If you have any chemical sensitivities or are concerned about the effects of pesticides, organic wines are likely a safer choice for you.


3. They are often more socially responsible

Many wineries that are committed to organic production are also highly concerned with sustainability and ethical treatment of both their land and their workers. Species native to the vineyards are preserved rather than eradicated, native shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses that have been uprooted to clear land for the vines are replanted, and losing some of their crop to local wildlife like hungry bears is accepted as an expected part of the harvest.

Equal attention is paid to both maintaining the quality of soil and the quality of living of those who work in the vineyard. Carbon footprints are kept to as much of a minimum as possible. While different vineyards vary in their level of participation in these ethical processes, supporting organic wine frequently means supporting a healthier earth and happier workers.


4. Organic wines are less prone to vintage variation than conventional wines

In a poor vintage, conventionally grown grapes suffer greatly. They fail to reach full ripeness, produce woefully low yields, and succumb to the diseases that occasionally run rampant in vineyards.

Proponents of organic wine believe that their grapes have greater natural resistance to inclement weather and disease, therefore performing better than their non-organic counterparts in less-than-spectacular vintages. This means that when you find a trusted producer of organic wines, you may not have to worry as much that the subsequent vintages will measure up to the level of quality that you have so enjoyed!


5. They are affordable:

There may be a small premium to pay for organic wines, but it is generally no less than the price increase between a mass-produced conventional wine and a higher-quality, smaller production conventional wine. You are paying more for the extra labor and increased costs that go into the production of a superior wine, for example lower yields (which result in more concentrated flavors), careful hand-picking and sorting, and time spent making organic preparations rather than purchasing chemicals.

For great values in organic wine, look to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, the country’s biggest organic wine region. Excellent bottles of Syrah- and Grenache-based blends can be found here for as little as $10-$20 per bottle.


Not only do organic wines have the potential to be healthier for you, the environment, and society, but they also have the added benefit of tasting just as good as (if not better than) conventional wines for comparable prices.

If you’ve been afraid to try organic wines or have been avoiding them thinking that the “trend” would soon pass, perhaps next time you are shopping for wine you will reconsider the many advantages that they have to offer.

Branden S <![CDATA[5 Organic Wine Producers You Ought to Know About]]> 2012-02-06T22:27:19Z 2012-02-06T22:14:56Z Organic wines differ from conventionally produced wines in a number of ways. Therefore, when buying organic wines, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. Firstly, organic wines are usually weaker than non-organic wines as no artificial additives are used to produce the alcohol. Rather, the fermentation process uses only the grapes’ natural yeasts and sugars. The lack of alcohol is compensated for by the richness of the flavors of the organically grown grapes. Therefore, it is very important when choosing organic wine to select a winemaker with a reputation for producing the finest grapes.

Below, we list five of the best organic winemakers.

1. Coturri Winery
Coturri winery in the U.S. is one of the leading producers of American organic wine. Their top rated wines include the Zinfandel. Red Zinfandel grapes have long been a favorite among California winemakers, and Tony and Phil Coturri use their 45 years of winemaking experience to bring out the best of their flavor.

2. Stellar Organics
Stellar Organics is the top organic wine brand in the UK in terms of sales figures. Their range of South African wines includes red, white, rose and sparkling varieties. The company is fairtrade and committed to sustainable production.

3. Fleury
Fleury is the first organic wine producer to operate in the Champagne region. Their wines have everything you would expect from good Champagne. The founder, Brian Fleury, says “we allow the grapes to take center stage in every barrel, bottle and glass of our wines.”

4. The Organic Wine Works
The Organic Wine Works use grapes grown in the Santa Cruz mountains, where the harsh weather gives rise to grapes that are rich in deep and complex flavors.

5. Frey Vineyards
Frey Vineyards have been making organic wine for 30 years. Their wide range of wines is 100% free from sulfites, allowing the natural complexity of the grapes to shine through.

Branden S <![CDATA[Gilles Louvet]]> 2011-04-14T17:05:31Z 2011-04-06T08:07:13Z Gilles Louvet works with 50 producers and 10 cooperative wineries on 700 hectares of vines to offer an extensive range of organic wines from Languedoc Roussillon, the Rhone Valley, the Gers and Bordeaux regions. By working in cooperation with a group of producers using a shared quality charter, and with combined sales efforts, the company is having a significant impact on the environment by encouraging more and more producers to convert to organic farming.

Vignobles Gilles Louvet has its own vinification centre in the Gard region, exclusively designed for organic wines. It contains a large-capacity vat house with stainless steel and epoxy-coated cement vats.
This facility is set in the heart of a valley where organic produce is part and parcel of the inhabitants’ daily lives. Many companies work on organic produce here and a large number of winegrowers have already adopted the approach. Encouraged by the set-up of a winery which is 100% dedicated to organic wine, and by the sales opportunities created by Vignobles Gilles Louvet, a growing number of local winegrowers are in the process of converting to organic farming.

Branden S <![CDATA[Organic Wines of Millesime Bio 2011]]> 2011-03-27T00:02:07Z 2011-02-01T13:17:20Z millesime bio posterFor the wine enthusiast, passionate about organic and biodynamic wines, Millesime Bio is a Mecca. Its like having Christmas, birthday, a visit to Disneyland, and an all-access pass to (fill in your favorite blank) all at once! Five hundred top organic and biodynamic producers showing off their wines – and three days to taste, taste, taste.

millesime bio 2011This year, 2011, was the 18th Millesime Bio and the biggest yet. Held in Montpellier, France and organized by the association of organic producers in Languedoc-Roussillon AIVB-LR, and Sud de France, it attracted more than 3500 wine proffessionals – buyers, importers, journalists, and conventional producers, come to sample and check out what the ‘organic’ fuss is all about.

As a blogger it was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with many of the producers featured on Organic Wine Find, taste their latest wines, and also meet and dicover new producers. With so many organic wines in one place, at one time, it presents a unique opportunity to compare quality. For a wine to stand out in the company of so many excellent peers, it has to be something really special.

So who were the ‘standout’ producers this year?

Domaine Pierre FrickPierre Frick This was one of my favorites from the show, and without doubt the best sulfur free wine that I tasted in Montpellier. Jean-Pierre has really taken sulfur-free winemaking to a new level. The same quality you’d expect from a sulfited wine, but with the added benefits of even more expressive nose and vitality of flavor. The wines that stood out for me (and they were were all excellent) were the 2009 Blanc de Noir Sans Soufre and the 2008 Muscat. I could have stood sniffing that muscat for hours, it was so tantalizing!

terre des chardonsTerre Des Chardons won “Best In Show” as far as I was concerned. Truly mind blowing wines on so many levels. The two cuvees from their range that stood out were the Costieres de Nimes Rouge “Marginal”, a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache, and the Rosé a 50/50 Syrah Grenache blend. Delicate and refined, they are both farmed biodynamically and both made with indigenous yeasts and without added sulfites. Extraordinary ‘living’ wines that leave you flying. Can’t recommend them highly enough.

Guillot-Broux LabelGuillot-Broux An outstanding range of well-made organic wines from the Macon region – Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir. The whites stood out for me with their gentle attack, and then whoosh, a wonderful bracing surge of minerality on the mid palate coming together for a nice long finish. Will be great with food, but also enjoyable just as a tasting experience on their own.

cornin winesDominique Cornin Delicious, clean, well-made chardonnay. Not too oaky, not too acidic, nicely balanced.

Philippe DelesvauxPhilippe Delesvaux I must admit that I went into this tasting wondering if I was going to find a Chenin Blanc that I could enjoy, having found lots of examples earlier in the day that were either too hard or too blah for my palate. Philippe Delesvaux’s wines were a nice surprise and a pleasure. Slightly sweeter versions of Chenin. I particularly enjoyed the 2009 Les Clos which had an awesome fragrant nose, and delicious sweetness without being too sweet. Lovely well-made wines.

Closel VaultsClosel Chateau des Vaults At the other end of the Chenin Blanc spectrum is the Savennieres, dry, with biting acidity, that really shows off Chenin to its best. These Loire wines are sometimes called austere but I found the Closel to be quite delicious, with an inviting bouquet, and a palate that’s both complex and refreshing.

Chatau Le PuyChateau Le Puy Compared to some of the more fashionable varietal blends I was beginning to feel like my home region, and my regular staple, the ‘bordeaux blend’ was a just bit on the boring side. But no list of outstanding wines would be complete without Chateau Le Puy. A superbly crafted blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere – smooth, balanced with a bright, acidic finish.

And the list goes on..

Domaine Duseigneur – fantastic Rhone blends

Didier Montchovet – Great Pommard

Chateau La Canorgue – Gold Medal Winner from the Cotes de Luberon